Changing Tides: ViacomCBS Fires Nick Cannon
Changing Tides: ViacomCBS Fires Nick Cannon
Yesterday, Nick Cannon seemed to be all over the news. Between calling whites “true savages” to engaging in anti-Semitic rhetoric, the Masked Singer host was making waves. I doubt many people expected his bosses at ViacomCBS to do much, if anything, about it. After all, the name of the game these days is turning a blind eye to such statements, at least if the speaker is black. So imagine the surprise when the media giant announced it had ended its relationship with Cannon.
INBOX: ViacomCBS terminates relationship with Nick Cannon after he refuses to apologize or acknowledge wrongdoing by spreading blatantly anti-Semitic conspiracy theories pic.twitter.com/BD94qu5jws
— Peter J. Hasson (@peterjhasson) July 15, 2020
Before we get into ViacomCBS’ statement and what it might mean going forward, here is an excerpt from Cannon’s June 30th broadcast.
I’ll admit, I had a difficult time listening to the clip. Not because I’m white, but because of the pseudo-science and the fact he is citing known anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan as his source. Add to that Cannon’s assertion he is hosting an “academic” show and it is to laugh. Somehow, I don’t think he truly understands the meaning of the word.
According to The Daily Caller, Cannon’s guest, rapper Professor Griff, has made well-documented anti-Semitic comments. Cannon wasn’t to be outdone by his guest:
When they were sent to the Mountains of Caucasus, they didn’t have the power of the sun. The sun started to deteriorate them. So, they’re acting out of fear, they’re acting out of low self-esteem, they’re acting out of deficiency, so therefore the only way they can act is evil,” Cannon continued.
Wow! Because I am melanin-challenged, I’m evil. Except there’s a little problem with that. It isn’t scientifically sound. But that doesn’t matter, at least not to Cannon. After all, if Farrakhan said it, it must be true. Hmm, sort of sounds like the #MeToo! Movement, doesn’t it? If Farrakhan said it, it has to be true and is, therefore, not up for debate.
Sorry, Nick, the world doesn’t work that way.
In a twist, a number of folks took to Twitter to condemn Cannon for his comments. Among them was this tweet from Jonathan Greeblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League.
Truly disturbing that @NickCannon would use his platform to perpetuate false antisemitic conspiracy theories and lift up the vehemently antisemitic Louis Farrakhan. He should apologize immediately and educate himself on why his comments are so harmful. https://t.co/5wkCjbQu8W
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) July 13, 2020
Less than twelve hours later, ViacomCBS announce its split with Cannon.
So what does all this mean for the future for ViacomCBS and Nick Cannon?
Not only did the legal department–and you know it had to be involved in the drafting of the statement–admit Cannon’s comments were anti-Semitic, it noted Cannon had not apologized for the remarks. And that is my first concern. The company’s statement seems to say no action, or at least no action that really mattered, would have been taken had Cannon issued an apology.
Mind you, Cannon did issue a statement. He even discussed why he didn’t “apologize”. The best I can say about it is it was and interesting explanation.
My podcast is specifically an academic podcast to have tough and difficult conversations based off of text. And if we read something and something’s not accurate, let’s do away with it,” Cannon says. “I can’t wait to sit down with some people that can help educate me and help further this conversation. I want to be corrected.”
Now, a 30-second internet search would have given him scientific papers that debunk his melanin theory. Whether he took the time to do his research and threw those papers out because they didn’t agree with Farrakhan and company or he simply didn’t do the research, we will probably never know. But if he is going to claim to have an academic podcast, he needs to do the work. Like it or not, research is an important part of the job.
As for Farrakhan himself and the controversy surrounding him, Cannon had this to say:
I can’t be responsible for however long Minister Farrakhan has been ministering and things that he said. That is his voice and his fight. I can only be held accountable for what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard.”
In other words, he doesn’t want to take responsibility for looking into what Farrakhan has preached–or written–in the past. He’d rather cover his ears and close his eyes and plead ignorance. Or, as he noted later, he would rather focus on the postive and (implied) ignore the negative.
Except when it comes to condemning those who are malanin challenged.
And that brings us to the key part of ViacomCBS’s statement:
While we support ongoing education and dialogue in the fight against bigotry, we are deeply troubled that Nick has failed to acknowledge or apologize for perpetuating anti-Semitism, and we are terminating our relationship with him.
There’s that pesky language about acknowledging or apologizing for what he said. Does that leave the door open to him if he should issue a public apology? Very possibly. After all, if they fail to “forgive” him if he issues an apology, they will be accused of being racist. With advertisers showing their willingness to pull their all-important dollars from shows or even sporting teams deemed not to be “woke” enough, the company very likely would not only welcome Cannon back but issue an apology for firing him in the first place.
However, the fact the company actually took action is something we should not only acknowledge but support. If a white spoke about blacks or any other minority the way Cannon and his guest did about Jews, etc., the white would be fired with prejudice. Social media would be alive with comments supporting the move, not criticising it the way we see on Twitter.
Whether this is the beginning of sanity beginning to return to the entertainment industry or not, all we can do is wait and see. My guess is this is an anomoly that we won’t see repeated for awhile. But one can hope we truly are seeing a change happening. It is time to stop the hate–from all sides. It is time to hold people responsible for what they say. It is past time to hold elebrities reponsible for spreading lies and hatred.
Still, I’m not going to hold my breath as I wait to see if the termination lasts. I guess we’ll see when Masked Singer, one of Cannon’s shows, returns. . .assuming we ever emerge from this Covid-19 shutdown we’re being held in.
UPDATE: That didn’t take long. Fox has announced Cannon will remain with The Masked Singer after her “apologized” for his remarks. All it took was him apologizing in the right way, as I suggested would happen. His so-called apology?
If I have furthered the hate speech, I wholeheartedly apologize”
Some apology. He doesn’t admit he did anything wrong. But it was enough for the network to let him keep his job–and probably for them to avoid a law suit.